Epilogue: The Hero out of Time

Rauru's awakening was sudden and instant, as if a loud bell had been rung right next to his head. Without any of the fatigue of actual physical sleep, he opened his eyes and looked at the one who had awakened him from his ethereal slumber, the one who had entered the Temple of Light through the portal from Hyrule.

He was a young Hylian boy, about ten years of age, wearing green clothes reminiscent of the ones worn by the hero who slew Prince Darion – what had his name been again? He was holding the Master Sword in both hands, and the green, blue and red gemstones required to draw it from its pedestal were hanging on a pendant around his neck. The boy staggered forward with his eyes half-closed, taking no notice of the sentinel whom he had just awakened, and after a few unsure steps fell to the side and collapsed. Rauru might have been afraid for his safety, had it not been foretold by Kasuto that this would happen.

Everything is proceeding as she has foreseen, he thought, idly looking at the small, firefly-like creature that was lying on the floor next to the boy, joining him in his sleep. Now, in order to prevent me from going back into the trance, there must be another arrival... ah, there he is.

A tall man strode through the shimmering portal with the gait of a ruler, his head raised high, a satisfied smile on his face. His dark skin and red hair immediately identified him as a Gerudo, and he overlooked the chamber like a warlord overseeing his conquest. His eyes passed over the sleeping boy with a short hesitation that indicated mild disinterest and moved on to the Triforce that floated in the middle of the room, emitting a radiant golden light. His smile turned into a wide grin, and without bothering to look any further, he strode toward it with a greedy glint in his eyes.

"Hold!" Rauru shouted, and his words made the Gerudo freeze in his steps, assuming a tense posture and overseeing the rest of the chamber with hurried glances. When he saw the half-transparent figure of the sage standing in the far corner of the room, he raised his palms that were red with fresh blood and moved his fingers in preparation of a spell.

"So they placed a sentinel here," he said, his voice disdainful and self-assured. "Have at you, old man!" he cried out and sent a green magic projectile toward Rauru. The Sage of Light did not flinch when the spell shot toward him and passed through his ethereal body, hitting the wall behind him with no effect.

"You cannot hurt me," he calmly told the Gerudo.

"I wouldn't be so sure about that," the intruder said, drew a large, two-handed sword and charged at Rauru, his patterned cape waving in the air as he ran. He jumped high and brought the sword down on Rauru in an attack that would have cleaved him in two, had the Spirit Trance not protected him. As it were, the blade passed through him as if through air, and his attacker eyed Rauru with a surly gaze.

"What foolishness is this?" he asked, putting back his sword. "I recognize this spell. It means I can't touch you, but you can't hurt me, either." He shook his head in disbelief. "What kind of guardian would make himself unable to protect his treasure?"

"But you are mistaken," Rauru replied calmly, although he did regret the fact that he could not even try to fight this man, whose evil intentions would have been plain to see even without Kasuto's prophecy – the blood on his hands and his willingness to kill the supposed 'guardian' without hesitation left no doubt about that. Rauru wondered what set of circumstances would have led this man to enter the Sacred Realm right after that boy, and concluded that he must have been watching and following him from afar.

"I am not a guardian," he said. "I am merely Rauru, Sage of Light."

"And I am Ganondorf," the man replied, "King of the Gerudo." He waved his hand dismissively, as if he was expecting Rauru to bow before him, and wanted him to dispense with the formalities. "Tell me, Rauru: Why are you even here? In your current state, you have no power to stop me."

"So you can only see the world in terms of power?" Rauru asked. Kasuto's prophecy had told him that it was futile to try and change this man's mind, but it was unthinkable that he not at least try and appeal to his conscience.

Assuming he even has one.

"Don't insult me, you ghostly apparition," Ganondorf said. "I believe in power above all else, but I realize that it's only a means to an end."

"Indeed," Rauru nodded, relieved that this man was not merely coveting power for the sake of power. "Then what is your end?" he asked.

"To see my people prosper."

"A noble goal," Rauru nodded in appreciation, commenting bitterly in his mind that noble goals were no safeguard against evil. "One you would freely spill blood for," he added and pointed at Ganondorf's blood-stained hands.

"Violence, too, is only a means to an end," the Gerudo King smiled.

"He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword," Rauru quoted a passage from an obscure tome he had once read.

"Ah, you're referring to the magic sword that can deflect even the might of the Triforce," Ganondorf said and peered at the boy sleeping close by. "I have been warned about it, so I shall break it over my knees, right here and now."

So the Gerudo remember this sword... But there's one thing this king does not seem to know.

Rauru calmly watched Ganondorf walk over to the boy and bend over, reaching for the Master Sword that he was clutching even in his sleep. The instant he touched its hilt, he recoiled and almost fell over backwards, yelling in shock and pain. He waved his right hand as if he had touched red-hot iron, and smoke rose from his palm.

"What's with this sword?" he demanded, looking again at Rauru.

"This is the Blade of Evil's Bane," Rauru informed him. "It has been blessed by the Goddesses, so that evil ones may never touch it. And I doubt you could destroy it, either."

"Whatever," Ganondorf grunted with barely-hidden frustration. "It's not like I could be defeated even with that sword. And certainly not by a little kid," he added and kicked hard against the sleeping boy below him. The boy groaned softly, but did not wake up from his magical sleep which, if Kasuto was right, had been brought about by the Master Sword itself because it had judged the boy too young to be a hero.

"Listen to me, you fool!" Rauru cried out, if only to turn Ganondorf's attention away from the sleeping boy. "The first man who claimed the Triforce lost everything he held dear, long before he met his fate on the blade of this sword. The power of the gods only led him and those he came into contact with to ruin and despair."

"Ah, thank you for reminding me why I am here," the Gerudo King said. Without looking at Rauru, he left Link be and walked up to the Triforce in the middle of the room, appraising it with coveting eyes as he basked in its golden radiance. "Your warnings mean nothing to me," he said. "Or are you trying to scare me by suggesting this thing is cursed?"

"Perhaps it is," Rauru said pensively "By claiming the Triforce, you may doom your people just as easily as you may save them. You are entitled to gamble your own life, but not theirs!"

"What do you know about our lives?" Ganondorf turned around and shouted at Rauru. "We live at the edge of the desert, barely scraping by day after day! Half of our children starve before they reach adulthood! This can't even be called 'life' to begin with!"

So the lot of the Gerudo has not changed since my time... What a pity.

"Do the people whose lives you risk share your opinion?" Rauru asked.

"Bah." Ganondorf snorted and raised his head high. "I am their king. I know best what's good for them. Nabooru and the other fools who secretly oppose me will yet come to accept that. And besides," he cut off Rauru who wanted to make one last attempt at dissuading him, "it's far too late for me to turn back now. The King of Hyrule died by my hands, which makes peace between the Gerudo and the Hylians impossible. All that's left for me to do is to seize my destiny. And since your words do not have the power to stop me, you can only watch." Without further words, Ganondorf dismissed Rauru, stepped toward the Triforce and raised his right hand.

This man is so consumed by his hatred and misery that he cannot be reasoned with. Exactly as Kasuto predicted.

Rauru considered warning the Gerudo King about what would happen next, but he decided against it: Ganondorf would only consider his words another futile attempt to scare him away.

It is as he said: I can only watch.

Ganondorf pressed his palm against the Triforce, and an ethereal voice began to speak. The Gerudo King ignored its words and interrupted it, unwilling to listen to even more ominous warnings.

"Triforce!" he shouted. "I wish to be the ruler of this land! Give Hyrule to me!"

But Ganondorf's wish was not fulfilled: With a calmness that infuriated him, the disembodied voice informed him that he had been found wanting; that his heart was not in balance, and that he would only receive one third of the Triforce. When he heard that, the Gerudo King began to rage, demanding obedience from its price, cursing and shouting when his demands were summarily ignored. Rauru watched in silence, gaining no satisfaction from Ganondorf's anger.

In the end, the Triforce split in three pieces that slowly drifted away from each other, while the voice explained to the Gerudo King the conditions for its reconstruction. A bloody hand print could still be seen on the topmost part, and it was this part that entered Ganondorf's body, transforming into a crest on the back of his right hand. The second part traveled toward the portal to Hyrule and vanished, while the third part shot toward the sleeping boy and entered his body.

"What? This kid got a part, too?" Ganondorf stomped toward the boy, extending his hands as if he was about to choke him and claim his Triforce piece for his own.

"Stop!" Rauru called out, desperate to save the boy, although Kasuto's prophecy was dreadfully vague as to how he was supposed to do that. "Don't kill him!"

"Prevent me," Ganondorf growled, not even deigning to look at Rauru.

"He can lead you to the third piece!" the Sage of Light shouted, and his words got Ganondorf's attention. "He will awaken in a number of years, and he'll no doubt look for the third piece, too!"

"You're just saying that so I don't kill him, old man," Ganondorf snarled.

"I admit it!" Rauru said. "But that doesn't change anything! Whoever receives the third piece will surely trust this boy more than you! You only have to watch him, and-"

"Make him do the work for me? Like I did before? Hm..." Still seething with fury and disappointment, Ganondorf considered Rauru's advice, while the Sage of Light nervously peered at the boy whose life he was trying to save.

He looks a bit like my grandson, he thought sorrowfully. Except that he was always so timid. He would never even have touched a sword...

"Very well," Ganondorf said after a short while, his rage cooled down somewhat. "I'll do as you suggested, Rauru. Going on a wild-goose-chase all over Hyrule doesn't suit me – I'd rather spend the time rooting out all who would resist me."

Thank you, merciful Goddesses! If the hero had died here-

"Don't look so relieved," the Gerudo King told Rauru with audible dismay. "I know what you're thinking – that this kid will defeat me one day. Ridiculous!" He turned his back toward both Rauru and the boy and strode toward the portal to Hyrule. "Mark my words, old fool, you have only bought him a reprieve. Tell him that when he wakes up."

Most certainly not, Rauru thought as he watched Ganondorf stomp through the portal, leaving the Sacred Realm. With a shudder, he remembered the last part of Kasuto's prophecy: In his frustration, this King of Evil would bring ruin to Hyrule and rule it with an iron fist for seven years, until he would be confronted by the boy sleeping nearby.

Now if only she could have been bothered to predict the outcome of that fight, too...

Fortunately for him, the spell that bound him to this place spared Rauru seven years worth of anxiety and worry: With the only conscious living being gone from this chamber, he felt the Spirit Trance reclaim him and saw his body become transparent. With a silent shake of his head, he glanced one last time at the sleeping boy who had nothing but hardships waiting for him when he woke up. There was a grim look on his face even as he slept, as if part of him knew already, had always known, what his destiny would be.

Once the Master Sword deems him ready, I will awaken along with him, and set him upon his arduous path, Rauru thought as his sight faded once again. How shameful, to thrust the task of saving the world on a child, while I go back to nothingness...

The Temple of Light faded before his eyes, and Rauru vanished again. Only the Hero remained behind, granted the dubious reprieve of a magical sleep, clutched firmly in the cruel hands of fate that would never set him free as long as there was evil in the world.

THE END

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(Completely Optional) Closing Notes:

I'm not big into author's notes unless they're really necessary, or if it's the ending of the story where they can't interrupt the flow anymore. However, this happens to be the ending, so I shall ramble for a bit.

I was writing this story under fortunate circumstances that allowed me to put a large portion of my time into it, which is why I wrote it comparatively quickly, considering its scope. Which was probably why I could keep all the story threads coordinated and reduce the number of plot holes or inconsistencies to an acceptable minimum. Those lucky circumstances probably won't repeat themselves anytime soon, but I'm glad to have made this unique experience.

I came up with the idea for this story - combining backstory elements from multiple Zelda games - years ago, when I was very much into Zelda timelines. Although that changed over time (at the very least, I don't see a unified timeline as plausible anymore; I now prefer a modular approach where some games connect with others, but not all of them), the story idea stuck in my memory somehow, and after finishing Twilight of the Goddesses, I was confident enough in my abilities to pull the concept off.

Speaking of Twilight of the Goddesses, Curse of the Triforce was originally supposed to be a prequel to it. However, when I arrived at the point where the Master Sword first appeared, I decided to drop that connection. Coming so late in the story, and introducing several new elements (evil goddesses, etc) that were not really relevant to CotT's plot, it would have severely disrupted the pacing and muddled the focus. Sometimes, what looked good in the outline just doesn't work out in the end - a good thing for me to learn, since I otherwise stuck very closely to my outline. Anyway, since a few reviewers mentioned that they suspected a connection at first, I felt I should mention it: Yes, you were right, I just changed my mind.

And speaking of reviewers: Thank you for taking the time to give me some (very positive!) feedback, which I took as a confirmation that I was doing something right. The story didn't get very many views, for which I probably have only myself to blame (what did I expect, writing about mostly original characters on a fan fiction site?), so the knowledge that some people out there were enjoying it contributed greatly to my motivation.

I enjoyed myself, too, as I wrote this story, and will hopefully find the time to continue writing in some capacity, whether it's on this site or others like it. Or professionally. A man can dream.

Lord Syntax